Saturday: Waiting

Last night was much about waiting in the Emergency Room for a diagnosis of my friend – it was very difficult.  But one of the things we did to pass the time was talk about when he lived in Israel and experiencing Easter there.

The big thing in Jerusalem is not Good Friday, nor is it Easter Sunday. It’s Holy Saturday.

Holy what?

Exactly – here in the west we don’t celebrate Holy Saturday…because what would you do on this day? Nothing. Jesus didn’t die, nor did he rise again.

Which is exactly what those in Jerusalem are doing (or did) right now.  They gather together and await the flame to be passed from person to person to person and then walk out together.  It’s their belief that the Spirit came on this day and arose Jesus from the dead on Sunday.  The fire represents the Spirit.

But really, I think this day typifies what it means to be a Christian.  Philip Yancey, one of the most influential authors in my life, ends his book, The Jesus I Never Knew, with this profound truth:

The other two days have earned names on the church calendar: Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Yet in areal sense we live on Saturday, the day with no name. What the disciples experienced in small scale – three days, in grief over one man who had died on the cross – we now live through on cosmic scale. Human history grinds on, between the time of promise and fulfillmentCan we trust that God can make something holy and beautiful out of a world that includes Bosnia and Rwanda, and inner-city ghettos and jammed prisons in the richest nation on earth? It’s Saturday on planet Earth; will Sunday ever come?

That dark, Golgothan Friday can only be called Good because of what happened on Easter Sunday, a day which gives a tantalizing clue to the riddle of the universe. Easter opened up a crack in a universe winding down toward entropy and decay, sealing the promise that someday God will enlarge the miracle of Easter to cosmic scale.

It’s a good thing to remember in the cosmic drama, we live out our days on Saturday, the in-between day with no name. I know a woman whose grandmother lies buried under 150-year-ld live oak trees in the cemetery of an Episcopal church in rural Louisiana.  In accordance with the grandmother’s instructions, only one word is carved on the tombstone: “Waiting.”

Waiting is hard for me, but I’m learning. I’m learning to believe in hope, and to perservere that hope is certain and Resurrection Sunday is comin’.  That the not-yet of the Kingdom will be now, and that someday all sad things will be made untrue.

I’m waiting.

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April 2009

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